In today's culture, so much of our self-worth and sense of identity comes from the career we choose, so it's no surprise when losing a job comes with a loss of identity and feelings of worthlessness. Sure, we could find a new job to combat those feelings, but what we should do is break the connection our career has to how we feel about ourselves.
So how do we do it? How do we find a sense of identity and worth despite losing a job and move forward in a powerful spiritual way?
1. Give yourself time to grieve
We often think of grief as something reserved for the death of someone we loved, but grief is something that comes with a loss of any kind. Losing a job comes with a lot of complicated emotions. You are not just losing your employment. You are losing your ability to provide for yourself, you're losing your routine, and likely you are losing something you've been using to weigh your worth for a while.
Before moving forward, you need to give yourself time to heal. Think of the loss like a broken leg- if you don't give yourself time to rest, if you don't take time to heal your mind and address the limiting beliefs the loss plants in your mind, it will be like you're trying to walk on a broken leg while you're still in the cast- uncomfortable, painful, and challenging. Although it seems like moving on should be easy, we need to remember that healing from the loss of a job means re-writing the beliefs we have about where things like our values come from.
2. Focus on who you are, not what you've done
When you meet someone new, how do you introduce yourself? What do you tell them within the first few minutes of the conversation? In a culture of 'put your best foot forward,' most of us tend to focus on what we are doing with value, even though that value is based on the wrong things. We place so much focus on the titles we hold at work and the things we've accomplished that we forget it's not the what that matters, but the how.
Instead of our identity being based on the fact that we have a job, our focus needs to be on the character traits we possess that got us that job. Your value comes from your diligence, dedication, and willingness to learn, not from the job you got because of those things. When we shift our mindset from what we got to how we got it, we can move forward in an empowered way because our value comes from things that cannot be taken away.
3. Take stock
With every ending comes the opportunity for a new beginning. It's human nature to try to replace the things we lose as quickly as possible, but once we cultivate the understanding that we are the value, we must start operating in a way that reflects that. We need to shift our perspective from being in weakness to being in one of strength.
What did you like about your last job? What things would you change now that you have the chance? Taking time to reflect and honestly ask ourselves questions like this puts us in the driver's seat. When we combine the understanding that our value comes from who we are and not from the job we have with the knowledge of what we want, we're no longer operating from a place of lack. By shifting our mindset from one of just 'finding a job' to 'finding the right job for us,' the opportunities we can see multiply because we're no longer looking to fill a void. We're no longer operating from a place of weakness and fear where we feel like if we don't immediately find employment again, it reflects poorly on us.
No matter who you are, the loss of a job is difficult. It forces us into change, and, as Mary Wollstonecraft said in Frankenstein, "Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change."
The good news is that when we take the time to heal and cut the ties between our sense of self and the way we make ends meet; when we begin to shift our focus from what we've lost to what we stand to gain; and when we allow ourselves to be selective of the next place, we give our time and energy, we can move forward in a powerful way.